Work is underway to prepare the former Worcester News building for re-development into high quality teaching facilities for health students at the University of Worcester.
West Midlands based firm DSM Demolition Ltd has been stripping the interior of the building, removing asbestos, internal partitions, doors, frames, toilets, floor coverings, old heating and electrical systems and removing the water tank that fed the sprinkler systems.
This initial work is being co-funded by the University and the Worcestershire Local Economic Partnership (LEP) ‘Getting Building Fund’. During the summer the Worcestershire LEP and the Secretary of State for Housing and Local Government made a £3m grant to the University for infrastructure and ‘green’ works at the former Hylton Road industrial estate. The grant which is fully match-funded by the University will enable the University to prepare the ground for the creation of the £40m plus Severn Campus for Health, Well-being and Inclusive Sport.
The University of Worcester has a reputation for excellent financial management and promoting efficiency and will report a small surplus this year, despite losing several million pounds due to the pandemic.
University Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive, Professor David Green CBE, said: “We are pleased to be able to get under way with the initial phase of work to strip out the building. The funding from the LEP, match-funded by the University, has enabled us to invest now, just when the construction industry is in difficulty and unemployment is rising, allowing us to help sustain vital jobs for local tradespeople, working on a truly worthwhile project. The creation of this campus will bring jobs and prosperity to the City as well as creating hundred of new opportunities to gain a first class education and vital professional qualification in a wide variety of health professions including nursing and paramedicine. There is a real skill shortage in these areas and I know that all local leaders understand how the creation of the campus will do so much to create opportunity for young people from throughout Worcester and Worcestershire.”
Earlier this year, the University appointed Midlands-based architects Glancy Nicholls to drawn up plans for the re-development of Berrows House, which will go to the City Council’s planning committee in due course.
“The development of this facility will be key in providing inclusive and inspiring learning facilities to educate the next generation of health professionals that this Country so badly needs,” Professor Green said.
“The importance of health and wellbeing in the 21st Century has been highlighted as never before by the Covid-19 pandemic. The medical and health professionals who will be taught in this building will make a transformative contribution for the better to our City and region.”
The large two and three storey 1965 building, designed by Austin-Smith Salmon-Lord Partnership, will become a spacious, flexible, modern teaching facility flooded with natural light from the impressive North light roof structures.
The transformed new building will face directly on to the River Severn, just a few metres from the Sabrina Bridge. Enjoying excellent, pedestrian, cycle and wheelchair access to the Hive, the Worcester City Centre and the University of Worcester Arena, the new building will impart fresh life to the Worcester riverside and be a handsome addition to the University’s emerging Severn Campus, as well as Worcester City’s central riverside area.
Mark Stansfeld, Chair of the Worcestershire Local Economic Partnership, said: “The LEP is really pleased to be able to support this most worthwhile project which will provide new facilities to train more health professionals for the County and beyond. The University’s graduates in health, education, and many other areas are vital to our local workforce. I’m delighted to see work getting under way.”
The fully refurbished building will include specialist facilities for teaching medical and health professionals and will be a most significant addition to the University’s Severn Campus, whose focus is on health, wellbeing and inclusive sport.
The University’s plans for the Three Counties Medical School are currently progressing through the General Medical Council’s approvals and assessment procedures. The University is currently at Stage 4.
The University of Worcester, currently ranked in the top three for Quality Education in the Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings, is shortlisted for several awards in this year’s Student Nursing Times Awards, including Nurse Education Provider of the Year (Pre-registration), Best Student Experience, and Teaching Innovation of the Year . The University is also shortlisted for the second year running as University of the Year in both the Times Higher Education Awards and the UK Social Mobility Awards. In the most recent National Student Survey, Worcester was ranked number one in the UK for Midwifery out of the 75 universities who educate midwives.